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Our hopes for 2013 ~ part 2

From some WSC contributors

icon fantasist

That Scotland's clubs and administrators give the fans a league structure not based on playing the same small number of clubs four times a season. We want a set-up with more promotion and relegation. I'm not holding my breath. Short-sighted business decisions almost always trump sporting considerations in Scottish football and the clubs clearly don't believe that their customers are always right. That's the price you pay for being a loyal customer. Or, in old money, a fan; football is not a business, it's a sport. It's a shame those running the game are ignorant of that.
Mark Poole

That fans, especially on Twitter, can find it in themselves to be a little less one-eyed when talking about disciplinary matters involving their club's players, especially involving racism. Defend your club to the hilt, by all means, but don't forget your humanity while you're doing it.
Andy Brassell

I'd like to see Borussia Dortmund winning the Champions League. They play entertaining attacking football, have what seems a decent bunch of young enthusiastic players, a coach who talks clearly and engagingly about the game and no huge debts or billionaire owners. I've no connection at all with the club but they get my vote.
Dermot Corrigan

As someone of a certain age, who used to love a sneaky game of European football teams hangman during double maths, I have a serious pining for the UEFA and Cup Winners Cup. Is it too much to hope that clubs and fans (not just in the UK but pretty much right across Europe) start taking the much-maligned Europa League a little more seriously, especially now the barmy format has been ditched and the tournament has become a little more user-friendly. Ajax v Steaua Bucharest, Borussia Monchengladbach v Lazio: I can't be the only one who feels a rush of retro thrill at those fixtures, can I?
Matthew Barker

A serious attempt at sensibly-funded progression at Newcastle rather than gambling on spending as little as possible again.
Mark Brophy

Pundits should be more restrained in their criticism of referees. Their apparent inability to understand how officials make mistakes – the game is played at a furious pace, players are constantly trying to fool them and they don't have access to replays – is either stupid or disingenuous. If they can't curb the vitriol, they should be equally excessive in their criticism of the errors of players and managers.
Ed Wilson

As a British football supporter living in the US I really don't want to see that aging and cretinous generation of Chelsea players start washing up on the shores of MLS. The sport in this country is slowly getting on its feet. Yet there are enough challenges already without John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole turning up and making everyone feel queasy.
Ed Upright

With no tournaments to distract the populous this summer, that the actual football of the FA Women's Super League gets greater coverage than the transfer rumours and non-news of the men's game.
Glen Wilson

It would be great if the election campaign for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation is conducted with some transparency and talk about the football issues that need to be discussed. That is a forlorn hope as the politics and behind-the-scenes deals have already started – heaven forbid that anyone would actually communicate with fans on this continent of almost four billion.
John Duerden

As a Portsmouth supporter, my biggest hope is that 2013 finally sees the club free of Balram Chainrai and the Supporters' Trust bid is completed. The court date deciding the fate of the bid has been adjourned until January 15. It would also be nice to see Cardiff City and Southampton back in their proper colours next season and for a team outside the big four or five to win the FA Cup in May.
James De Mellow

I know that wishing for a left-field appointment to the Match of the Day sofa is a bit like hoping that someone surprising will succeed the Queen but this endless cab rank of ex-England cap-magnets and Premier League time-servers has to end. Michael Owen's terrifying recent appearance suggests otherwise. How about hiring someone who can tell me something I don't know, rather than gently describing what is happening on the replay, like a carer might in a rest home? Remember the fear in Gary Lineker's eyes when Danny Baker popped up on the BBC's 2010 World Cup coverage, instantly improving the station's entire tournament with a luminous ten-minute cameo? Never going to happen, is it?
Tom Lines

On the subject...

Comment on 31-12-2013 18:00:14 by 1974ddr #746007
Spot on re. Owen (zzzzz...), but the most terrifying thing for me about his MOTD performance was that he appeared to be wearing Nick Cave's moustache.
Comment on 31-12-2013 19:04:21 by geobra #746015
Re Matthew Barker's wish. Call it the Europa, or UEFA, CUP. Make it a straight two-legged knockout competition as it once was. Eliminate seeding, and don't let Champions League failures in through the back door. The fans would love it, and clubs and players would take it more seriously.

As for the Cupwinners Cup, if it were to be restored, it should be for winners only, with the same format. If the winners are in the Champions League, their country is not represented. If they have qualified for the UEFA Cup, they play in the Cupwinners Cup.

But it'll never happen. More's the pity.
Comment on 31-12-2013 19:19:05 by geobra #746018
And any stadium that's considered suitable to host matches in its country's top division should be eligible to hold European games. It's ridiculous that my club can entertain Juventus, Milan, Inter etc, but, with all due respect, not FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein.
Comment on 01-01-2013 03:05:17 by Sits With Rivelinho #746108
geobra wrote:
Re Matthew Barker's wish. Call it the Europa, or UEFA, CUP. Make it a straight two-legged knockout competition as it once was. Eliminate seeding, and don't let Champions League failures in through the back door. The fans would love it, and clubs and players would take it more seriously.

As for the Cupwinners Cup, if it were to be restored, it should be for winners only, with the same format. If the winners are in the Champions League, their country is not represented. If they have qualified for the UEFA Cup, they play in the Cupwinners Cup.

But it'll never happen. More's the pity.


All this.

I remember as a youngster when my boyhood team Ipswich were in the UEFA or CWC every year in the late 70s/early 80s and the European matches were the highlights of the season. Which of the three trophies it was, was almost secondary.
Comment on 01-01-2013 08:05:11 by geobra #746127
Exactly. And they never fielded weakened teams either. Apropos of which, why doesn't UEFA introduce a rule that anyone not selected for a midweek European game is ineligible for the following weekend's league match? If the clubs bleated, they could be told that they've brought it on themselves by too often treating the compettition, and the fans, with contempt.

And contempt is the problem, because familiarity, with group games now commonplace and Euroopean matches no longer special occasions, has bred it.
Comment on 01-01-2013 08:44:47 by the peter beardsley experience #746135
Amen to that geobra. The whole big clubs treating cup competitions (exception = Champions League) as glorified reserve matches thing is shite.

I'd rather clubs just withdrew from these competitions than put out under strength sides effectively making a mockery of them. Seriously, if you aren't going to put out your best XI just forfeit the game.
Comment on 01-01-2013 15:41:15 by geobra #746197
I have thought for a long time that any European competition below the Champions League should be open to the highest placed clubs who give a written and binding undertaking to

-field their strongest available side in ALL matches

and

-try their hardest to win the competition.

In other words clubs who actually want to be in it.

Any club who reneged on this pledge would be banned from all European competition for at least one season, even if they qualified for the Champions League.

And let's forget the smokescreen about what a club's 'best' team is. We may not agree on all 11, but on 6 or 7, yes. And if fit they should always play.
Comment on 03-01-2013 16:57:49 by coyotl666 #747044
it's apparent i'm well inthe minority here, but all this whinging about team strength in cups rather misses the point. there are very valid reasons for putting out a weakened side, particularly in group stage matches with position assured, but also in knockout phase if the "weakened" side is considered by the manager good enough to win: rotation is necessary to avoid injury and/or fatigue to ensure satisfactory future results; and there is much to be gained by giving opportunity to under-utilised players, whether youngsters coming through, veterans returning from injury seeking match fitness, or those on the periphary seeking to show what they've got.

it's a shame some of you are deprived of seeing the leading players on teams you obviously don't support so that those clubs can prioritise their resources to achieve the most in all competitions they are part of.

and some of us actually like the chance to see players might otherwise be visible only on the training grounds. and spare me lip serice to the glory days when the best played every avalable game with no ill effect. there wa ill effect in terms of fitness and injury potential, in which case said player would not be available for your selfish viewing pleasure at some future date, and the club in question might well be put out.
Comment on 03-01-2013 18:51:09 by the peter beardsley experience #747132
coyotl666 wrote:
it's apparent i'm well inthe minority here, but all this whinging about team strength in cups rather misses the point. there are very valid reasons for putting out a weakened side, particularly in group stage matches with position assured, but also in knockout phase if the "weakened" side is considered by the manager good enough to win: rotation is necessary to avoid injury and/or fatigue to ensure satisfactory future results; and there is much to be gained by giving opportunity to under-utilised players, whether youngsters coming through, veterans returning from injury seeking match fitness, or those on the periphary seeking to show what they've got.

it's a shame some of you are deprived of seeing the leading players on teams you obviously don't support so that those clubs can prioritise their resources to achieve the most in all competitions they are part of.

and some of us actually like the chance to see players might otherwise be visible only on the training grounds. and spare me lip serice to the glory days when the best played every avalable game with no ill effect. there wa ill effect in terms of fitness and injury potential, in which case said player would not be available for your selfish viewing pleasure at some future date, and the club in question might well be put out.


Clearly we are talking about different things here.

Rotating players in order to keep them fresh and injury free is obviously necessary for the purpose of managing your squad through the attrition of a 9 month, 38 game league campaign. Regardless, Blackpool and Wolves have in recent years been fined by the EPL for fielding understrength teams in league fixtures.

There appears to be no such sanction for fielding an apparently understrength XI in the Cup which not only makes a mockery of the competition but also causes you to wonder why the club bothered to enter the competition in the first place.

If clubs have no designs on winning competitions that they enter thats fine, just withdraw from them before a ball is kicked and leave it those who do.
Comment on 04-01-2013 15:33:57 by geobra #747486
In 1979-80 and 1980-81 West Ham played a total of 35 cup games in addition to 42 league games in each season and the Charity Shield in 1980. That's 120 games in two seasons. I don't remember them ever leaving out Brooking, Bonds, Devonshire, Goddard, Lampard, Martin, Parkes or Stewart, who were the backbone of the team, unless they were injured, in the name of 'squad rotation'. Indeed, the expression never existed in those days.

This season West Ham may well end up having played just 41 games. So why, 30 years ago when players were probably not even as fit as they are today, could they play 60 games in a season and now they must be 'rested' from cup ties in a season of about 40 games? It's all a myth, if you ask me, to justify practices that involve fleecing the public.

If you know you're not putting out a full strength side, at least have the decency to reduce your prices.

Considering what happened against Wigan in the League Cup, one dreads to think what the result will be if Allardyce fields a similar side tomorrow.
Comment on 04-01-2013 19:27:08 by geobra #747593
Most of the above-named players would have been bemused, and possibly even offended, by the idea that they needed to be 'rested'. Especially Billy Bonds, who played the whole of the Christmas/New year programme in 1987-88 (including two games in 24 hours on January 1st and 2nd) at the age of 40.

And remember that the 1980-81 side, playing 60 games, reached the League Cup Final and won the Second Division by a record 13 points, as well as playing six games in Europe.

And winter pitches were still energy-sapping and heavy then, not the billiard table surfaces they seem to be today even in January.
Comment on 04-01-2013 21:25:12 by Sits With Rivelinho #747659
I completely agree with geobra's sentiment however I think the reason rotation is so rife is that "everyone else is doing it", i.e. as soon as one team starts "resting" its top-line performers, then those players are going to be fitter and sharper than the top-line players of other teams they come up against who don't rotate.

So basically as soon as someone started doing it, everyone else (who could afford to) followed suit. In 1979-80 nobody did, so West Ham were competitive.

Like I said, this doesn't mean I agree with it, I don't.
Comment on 04-01-2013 23:59:20 by Vlad the Inhaler #747705
My big hope for 2013 is that the BBC will realise that Robbie Savage is an inarticulate buffoon and give him the heave-ho.

Not holding my breath though. Presumably he's cheaper than anyone else.

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